Stone rebellion in South Carolina
Claiming roughly eighty black and white lives and involving as many as one hundred slaves and perhaps as many whites, the Stono Rebellion of September 1739 was one of the most significant and violent slave uprisings in colonial America. Although the rebels failed in their attempt to reach St. Augustine and claim freedom under Spanish rule, the revolt shaped South Carolina slave society in some important ways and its legacy lingered for years after the event. The rebellion began at the Stono River in St. Paul's Parish, near Charleston, South Carolina. Several factors played a role in the timing of the rebellion. It is likely that the slaves organized their revolt to take place before September 29, when a certain provision was to go into effect requiring all white men to carry firearms to Sunday church services. It is also probable that many of the rebels were recently imported from the Kingdom of Kongo and that their religious beliefs (a syncretic form of Catholicism) influenced the uprising's timing. Contemporaries thought that the revolt was inspired in part by a visit to Charleston by a priest who relayed the Spanish offer of freedom in Florida. It is also likely that the slaves viewed a yellow fever epidemic that swept the area in August and September and rumors of war between Spain and England as fortuitous to their timing of the insurrection. From Stono River, the rebels moved to Stono Bridge, where they equipped themselves with guns, killed five whites, and burned a house. Turning southward, they reached a tavern before sunup, sparing the innkeeper because they considered him "a good man and kind to his slaves" but killing his neighbors. Other slaves joined the rebellion and, in Kongolese military fashion, the insurgents used drums, flags, and songs to inspire and fortify the group and coordinate their march southward. South Carolina's Lieutenant Governor, William Bull, and four companions encountered...
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